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Action on Fisher subdivisions way overdue

March 13, 2020

In January of this year, Lewes Planning Commission members for the third time considered a minor subdivision request that involves one of Lewes’ most historic properties, the early 18th century Fisher’s Paradise. Citing concerns about the minor subdivision’s potential impact on the 10-acre Fisher’s Cove major subdivision proposed for the adjacent property, of which the minor subdivision proposal is part, the planners deferred a decision once more.

While the commission finally recommended approval in February, interminable delays like this are what give bureaucracy a bad name. They cost time and money, and directly impact people’s lives. A local buyer wants to purchase the subdivided property and is ready to move forward with restoration and renovation plans but can’t without the delayed approval. In the meantime, nature’s inexorable habits are taking their deteriorating toll on the historic house, which has been unoccupied for years.

There is plenty of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 history associated with the house. The most significant episode involves Major Henry Fisher, who occupied the house during the Revolutionary War, monitored shipping activity in the mouth of Delaware Bay, and sent regular intelligence to the likes of George Washington and Alexander Hamiliton.

It was Fisher, historians say, who informed the Continental Congress and Washington that Lord Admiral Howe’s invading fleet of 228 vessels had reached mid-Atlantic waters and was on its way to the Chesapeake. That arrival set up the most decisive naval battle of the war and the subsequent defeat of the British by the Colonial forces and their French allies. That’s why this property figures so prominently in the core value of Lewes that recognizes the vital and enduring role of history in the town’s character.

The City of Lewes originally deemed the subdivision request minor, which typically signals an expedited process. Too late for that, but mayor and council are expected to discuss both the major and minor Fisher subdivisions at their March 16 meeting.

It is hoped that council will act and put an end to this drawn-out affair so all parties involved can move on toward preserving an essential piece of Lewes history and – in the case of the major subdivision – get a firm signal as to what makes the most sense for moving forward.

 

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, publisher emeritus, and Laura Ritter, news editor, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, CoPublisher and Editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, CoPublisher and General Manager.